Apple May Still Collaborate with Qualcomm for 5G Modems in Select Products
Recent reports indicate that Apple’s in-house development of a 5G baseband has encountered setbacks, pushing its anticipated release from late 2025 to early 2026. Consequently, Qualcomm and Apple have renewed their agreement for another three years, ensuring that Qualcomm continues to supply baseband chips for the iPhone until 2026. Many believe that in the long run, Apple will opt to replace Qualcomm’s solutions with its own proprietary 5G baseband.
According to Wccftech, even if Apple successfully develops its 5G baseband, it may still choose to collaborate with Qualcomm. However, this partnership might not involve the iPhone but rather extend to Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac product lines. The production capacity of Apple’s self-developed 5G baseband remains uncertain. Nevertheless, considering the volume of iPhone shipments, each iPhone that switches to Apple’s proprietary 5G baseband could potentially enhance Apple’s profit margins. Rumors suggest that Apple’s enthusiasm for developing its 5G baseband is largely driven by the high costs associated with procuring Qualcomm’s solutions.
Apple also aims to introduce its proprietary 5G baseband in the Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac product lines, though the timeline for this remains unclear, with the earliest estimates pointing to 2026. This means that Qualcomm is expected to supply components for at least two to three more years. There is speculation that Qualcomm might charge Apple additional fees to compensate for the loss of iPhone 5G baseband orders after the current agreement expires.
In addition to reducing reliance on Qualcomm, Apple seeks to decrease its dependence on Broadcom by developing customized Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips. However, similar to the development of its 5G baseband, Apple has faced a series of challenges in this endeavor.